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What topical acne antibiotics are available?

Topical antibiotics are a mainstay of doctor-prescribed acne therapy. As such, no over-the-counter products may contain erythromycin or clindamycin. Over-the-counter products generally contain BP, sulfa-based medications, or salicylic or hydroxy acid, in various strengths. It is noted that there are also many creative tinted formulations that help conceal the acne while treating it, for example, Akne-mycin may come in as 2% Erythromycin ointment or 2% solution, BenzaClin may come in as 1% Clindamycin and 5% BP gel and so on.

The two main topical antibiotics used in acne are erythromycin and clindamycin. They can be formulated alone or in combination with BP or zinc. These topical acne antibiotics may come in as solutions, creams, lotions, gels and wipes.

A variety of formulations of these products make them appealing to all skin types, i.e. from the oiliest to the most sensitive. Side effects may include stinging, burning, dryness, contact dermatitis, peeling, itching and redness. We can minimize the side effects by using a formulation that works best for our skin and using it to cover the acne and not the entire tube or jar at a time.

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